While the hermetic tradition teaches that every aspect of creation exists in relation to human beings’ inner life, the planet we have inherited bears the marks of a culture that dangerously upset that equilibrium, progressively isolating the two entities.
An emblem of courage and symbol of spirituality, present throughout history and in every mythology as a reference point for thinkers of every era and every civilization, bees remind us that we are part of something larger than ourselves and that everything is connected. Essential to the survival of the ecosystem and natural equilibrium, thanks to their activity as pollinators, bees have become a “heritage at risk” and require protection.
To impede their disappearance and make their vital function known, the Venice Gardens Foundation, working in close collaboration with leading research organizations in Italy and elsewhere in the world, is engaged in study, training and all other activities that can contribute to providing adequate protection for these “sentinels” of the environment.
Bees in the Royal Gardens
The presence of two beehives in the Gardens will make it possible to observe the colonies’ lives and focus attention on the fragility of their existence and need for protection.
Following the example of the French Senate’s decision to set an apiary that would also be an expression of beauty in Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, in the Royal Gardens of Venice, artistic intervention will define the hives’ forms, making them universally known and recognizable.
Natural beekeeping in the lagoon
The Venice Gardens Foundation is engaged in a research project founded on respect for the biological characteristics of the honey bee, whose aim is to identify the natural conditions that best allow bees to produce honeycomb without the introduction of wax foundation sheets and the chemical pollutants associated with them, and without employing the severe methods of selection now generally in use. In the Foundation’s experimental apiary in the Venetian lagoon, comparative studies will be carried out, employing both the rational hives now widely used and hives with natural honeycomb, on the qualitative and quantitative aspects that influence the well-being of the bee colony, its development in relation to the progress of the seasons, and its tendency to swarm.
Characterization of honey from the barene
On the islands of the lagoon, the presence of both wild and domesticated bees is very old, as is the seasonal movement of hives by boat. Documents on the production of honey on the barene, the small islands lying between the lagoon and the mainland, go back to the nineteenth century and a photograph which appeared in the magazine L’Apicoltore moderno (“The Modern Beekeeper”) in 1938 shows hives being moved after flooding of the barene.
Honey from the barene, typical of the Venetian lagoon, is strongly influenced by both its brackish soil and the species of halophilic flora found there: Limonium narbonense, a herbaceous plant that blooms between mid-July and late August, confers a characteristic purple tinge on the barene; Aster tripolium, a herbaceous plant with yellow and violet colored flowers that blooms from mid-August to September; Salicornia fruticosa, a bushy plant with fleshy stems and tiny yellow flowers that blooms from September to October. These influences are clearly reflected in the honey’s nutritional values and unique taste and fragrance: it is in fact generally characterized by a strong smell and persistent slightly bitter taste and has balsamic properties beneficial for the respiratory tract. In compliance with the legislation now regulating the characterization of honey, physiochemical and melissopalynological analyses will be carried out to authenticate its origins, determine its botanical, geographical, sensorial and organoleptic properties, identify possible impurities and represent a benchmark.